Wanderlust Abhijit decides to spend a weekend in Poland. He wanted to see and feel the beautiful eastern European country’s capital, Warsaw, all on his own. A casual chat with a Russian girl made him visit Krakow, known for its beauty. He was trigger happy, shooting pictures as the guide talked about the place’s history. He had a lonesome birthday in an Indian restaurant with gulab jamuns and candles, the next day. He felt that he had enough of Poland, while on the return journey, another Polish girl, told him about the beautiful rivers and sea of Gdansk. Here’s a travelogue, a fortnightly column, from the author, exclusively for Different Truths.
Ever since I first moved to Germany, in 2012, I visited many countries in Europe. Sometimes the trips have been as short as just over a weekend. Well, I’d definitely like to spend more time than just two days in any city, but it’s still better than not travelling at all.
Since April this year I have been living in London. The city is magnificent for a variety of reasons, which probably justifies a full post! But its still good to take a break and visit a new city/cities. So a couple of weeks back, I again started planning a weekend trip.
I decided to visit Warsaw, the capital of Poland. I had visited Warsaw last year also, but an Indian family friend living there offered to host me. I couldn’t decline. I was in Warsaw for two days but all I could see was the airport, their house and some more Indians.
I knew I had to visit again. I booked my flight tickets and hotel. Of course, I didn’t inform my family friend about the visit. It was supposed to be a secret trip!
So Friday evening, after finishing my work and I left for the airport. London has many airports, which is not surprising as there are a large number of people flying in and out of the city every day. My flight was from Luton Airport, arguably the most disliked airport in London.
Normally everyone takes a train from King’s Cross station to Luton Parkway station, which is fine. It’s the bus journey from this station to the airport that drives people crazy. The distance isn’t much but the thanks to the traffic the bus really moves at a snail’s pace. Let’s put it this way – when I reached the airport, I felt so relieved as if I reached Warsaw. I promised myself not to travel again from this airport. But I had made the same promise a few weeks ago when I went to Switzerland!
The flight was comfortable. It took a little over two hours when the pilot announced that we had landed in Warsaw. I left the airport and waited for the hotel shuttle to pick me. There was a Russian girl waiting for the shuttle. We started talking. She had been regularly visiting Poland for work. She said that one day will be sufficient to explore Warsaw and suggested I make a day trip to Krakow, the second largest city of Poland.
Being a self-proclaimed traveller that I am, my first question to the friendly person at the hotel reception was not about my room, but about the train connection to Krakow. I crashed in my bed around 1 am and knew I had to wake up early the next morning. The train to Krakow was at 10 am.
Not sure whether it was sleeping in a new place or something else, I didn’t sleep well and woke up late. I rushed to the central train station and bought the tickets. The train would leave in five minutes, the person at the counter told me before he got busy with the other travellers. I grabbed my ticket and ran as hard as I could for the train, with the scene from DDLJ where Shah Rukh helps Kajol board the train for their Eurotrip, running in my mind!
I managed to board the train a full minute before it left the station. Not bad, I told myself!
The train was simply fantastic, extremely comfortable and clean, as if it was its inaugural ride. The journey was for over two hours. Like a child, I chose a window seat and kept looking outside for almost the entire journey.
We reached Krakow bang on time! Not a minute late. The punctuality would have impressed even the Germans, who have a stellar reputation of being always on time, even when they have to meet their friends.
Like I do when visiting other cities, I had signed up for a walking tour. Not that I am a big fan of history of any city, except when I was in Rome. But being with an expert guide ensures that I get to see even the non-touristy places of a city and take pictures. I am kind of addicted to photography and travelling. Who wouldn’t be in Europe!
The tour was supposed to start at 2pm. I quickly made my way to an Italian restaurant and had pasta in white sauce with mushrooms, cheese and sun dried tomatoes. My all time favourite Italian food.
I joined the group, which was larger than I had expected and soon we were listening to the stories from the medieval times. Wait, I wasn’t not planning to write about the history of Krakow because I hardly paid any attention to what the guide said! The tour was about 2 hours and the guide, who was born in Krakow, showed us around. I took many pictures and when I felt that I had seen enough, I headed back to the station.
Attached to the Krakow station is a big mall. So if you are a shopaholic (I am not!) then you can indulge yourself in getting some nice things for your friends and family. And it’s not expensive, especially if you are buying some Polish brands.
I took the train and reached Warsaw in late evening. A bit tired. Oh I forgot to mention – it was my birthday. And since I didn’t wish to celebrate it alone, I went to an Indian restaurant, who made some delicious food and offered gulab jamun with a candle (probably a good substitute to cake). I ate the food and went back to the hotel. I didn’t realise when I had dozed off.
Next morning, I woke up and checked out of the hotel. The hotel manager was kind enough to let me leave my luggage behind, while I explored the city!
Warsaw was much bigger than, I had expected. I was keen to explore the old town. It’s always fascinating to visit the old town of any city. The architecture makes for good pictures and more ‘likes’ on Facebook!
The old town was expectedly very interesting. I must have walked for over two hours and after finishing the tour, I decided to have Indian food for lunch. Yeah, again!
My flight to London was from Modlin Airport, which is where you catch the budget airlines like Ryanair. That was my only option. All other flights were either booked or were too expensive. This was – and is – the downside of making spontaneous plans!
Anyway, the Modlin Airport is a little over an hour from the city with the train and a shuttle bus. It’s a small airport and gets really crowded. I have promised myself to never again fly to or fly out from this airport. Let’s see if I can keep this promise!
But the airport had good WiFi connection and allowed me to meet the deadline for submitting my first article to Different Truths. Phew!
Two things which impressed me most about Poland are cleanliness (everywhere!) and the excellent trains!
I thought that I was done with Poland and won’t have to visit again anytime soon. But on the flight a Polish girl sat next to me and we started talking. I told her that how much I liked Krakow and Warsaw. She smiled and asked if I have ever been to Gdansk. I said I have but that’s about it. She said its picturesque with sea and river! So Poland, I guess I will be back soon!
Pix by author
Abhijit Narayan is passionate about writing and travelling. A widely published poet and short story writer, his anthology, ‘The Dewdrops…a journey begins’, with two co-poets is a bestseller on Amazon. His debut romantic novel and is expected soon. He has visited more than 20 countries. He is a corporate lawyer, based in London. He studied law in New York and worked in India and Germany for a few years, before moving to London.